Sonal Khullar explores decolonizing museum practices in the display of South Asian Art, using the 2017 Documenta exhibition of Indian painter, Amrita Sher-Gil as a case study.
At Documenta in 2017, the work of Indian painter Amrita Sher-Gil (1913-1941) was exhibited alongside that of American filmmaker Maya Deren (1917-1961), presumably to highlight affinities in their feminism, primitivism, and cosmopolitanism. This talk considers the proposal and provocation of this comparison, and its implications for art history and museum practice. How do we narrate a postcolonial modernism that extended across empires and nations? Using Octavio Paz’s In Light of India (Vislumbres de la India, 1995), a memoir of his time in India and a meditation on South-South relations, Sonal Khullar offers a critical account of postcoloniality in the visual arts that departs from recent attempts to locate postcolonial modernism within histories of the nation-state, World Wars, decolonization, and political developments such as the Bandung Conference of 1955 and the Non-Aligned Movement.